Over the last two decades, a full nine Spider-Man films have been released. Four separate versions of the wall-crawler have delighted viewers over the years, starting all the way back in 2002 with Sam Raimi’s take on Peter Parker and culminating in the recently released Spider-Man: No Way Home.
This has led to a good amount of disagreement among Spider-Man fans, each of whom has a favorite version of the character along with a favorite film, favorite scenes, favorite villains…you get the point. Some fans argue that, while the Sam Raimi films are older, they carry the most heart. Others vehemently disagree, claiming that Andrew Garfield’s quick-witted, stylish performance takes the cake.
Hundreds of opinions have been shared over the years about which Spider-Man movie deserves the lofty title of “best,” and the debate is still going strong. We’re here to clear up any confusion about which Spidey flicks are absolutely worth a rewatch and which ones you can probably skip.
Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home.
The best Spider-Man films
Just to keep things interesting, we’ll start at the bottom and work our way up to the top. This list will include every recent Spider-Man film, including the recently released Spider-Man: No Way Home. Venom and Venom: Let There Be Carnage are both absent, as they don’t center their stories around Spidey. I’m taking into consideration the scores each film has earned on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, as well as my own opinions as a die-hard fan of the web-head. Here we go!
9) The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Let me start by saying that I don’t agree with this ranking. I’m letting the internet speak for itself here, as The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was widely lambasted by viewers and critics when it was released in 2014, but I still think the film deserves to be higher up on this list.
I get it⏤the cast was overstuffed and the plot was largely rambling, but The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had some truly iconic moments mixed into that slightly chaotic storyline. The scene between Peter and Gwen near the end of the film continues to be one of the most shocking and heartbreaking moments to ever appear in a Spider-Man film, and the movie took risks in trying to set itself up for future success. It obviously failed in this regard, given that no Amazing Spider-Man 3 was ever released, but I still applaud it for taking chances.
Regardless of what I think, the internet has spoken. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has a relatively abysmal 53 on Metacritic, with numerous critics calling the film “lackluster” and just plain “bad.” Numerous people pin the blame on Sony, who retains the movie rights to Spider-Man, for ruining this iteration of Spider-Man’s potential. People on Rotten Tomatoes seem to agree, as The Amazing Spider-Man 2 remains the only Spidey flick on the site with a rotten rating, coming in at only 52%.
8) Spider-Man 3
May I present you with the film that very much deserves to be on the bottom of this list. I don’t know what went wrong in the brains of people who think Tobey Maguire is the best Spider-Man, but let me repeat what the rest of the sane world is saying: You’re wrong.
This film does pretty much everything wrong. Maguire’s take on Peter is atrocious when compared to the two versions that followed, and the resulting character is so flat and uninteresting on screen that he drags literally every actor who appears alongside him down. Add to this the two—yes, two—separate dance scenes, and you have a movie that should be viewed alongside The Room and Vampire’s Kiss at annual terrible movie marathons. And I’m not even touching on the absolute abomination that is Topher Grace as Venom⏤that car crash speaks for itself.
It must also be added that I absolutely loved these films when they were released. I saw every one of them in theaters, showed them to all of my friends, and have been the subject of unceasing judgement from my fiancee ever since. I still love to watch it (paired with plenty of drinks), but not for its quality content. While not everyone agrees with the opinion I gained upon rewatching the film as an adult—again, you’re wrong—the majority of the internet concurs that this film is easily one of the worst Spidey films out there. The 2007 film has a 59 on Metacritic (somehow still beating out The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and inches in just under rotten on Rotten Tomatoes, with a score of 63%.
7) The Amazing Spider-Man
Again, can we please stop doing Andrew Garfield so dirty? The man absolutely crushed it as Spider-Man, and while I personally think Tom Holland personifies the role better, he certainly captured every aspect of Peter’s personality far better than Maguire. I’m going to go ahead and draw a connection between audience reactions to the Amazing Spider-Man films and the years in which they were released. When the Maguire-helmed films hit theaters, between 2002 and 2007, they were some of the only superhero flicks on the market. They stood out from films like Batman Begins because they were far more lighthearted and leaned into the comic feel, leaving them to largely dominate the superhero genre.
By the time the Amazing Spider-Man films were coming out, they were in competition with the MCU. When you’re watching Sony’s second attempt at getting Spider-Man right after viewing Captain America: The Winter Soldier, you might feel understandably unimpressed by Lizard as a villain. Still, I maintain that the heart of this film, and its follow-up, rings truer to the Spider-Man fans know and love from the comics—dorky, sweet, conflicted, relatable, and complicated—than Maguire’s ever did.
The internet at large seems to disagree with me, however, as evidenced by the film’s largely mediocre reviews online. On Metacritic, the film has a 66, more than ten points over its successor, but still lacking overall. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film scores slightly better, coming in aggressively average with a rating of 72%.
6) Spider-Man: Far From Home
In case you couldn’t already tell, let me be reiterate the fact that I personally do not feel that any Tobey Maguire Spider-Man entry deserves to be ranked above either Tom Holland or Andrew Garfield’s films. Somehow, both Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 manage to inch above the second Holland-helmed Spidey film, an actual crime of nature if you ask me.
While it didn’t have the fresh originality of some of the MCU’s most popular releases, Spider-Man: Far From Home is an interesting and delightful entry into the Marvel world. It takes far more risks than Homecoming did, facing Peter off against the charismatic and clever Mysterio for a very modern take on a superhero story. Some critics blasted the film for its “lazy writing,” which they said even Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Holland couldn’t pull off.
Despite its location right in the middle of this list, Far From Home actually has a pretty solid score on both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. The remainder of the Spider-Man films are all pretty unanimously popular, which means that we are officially looking at differences that come down to just a few percentage points. On Metacritic, Far From Home slides in several rating points over The Amazing Spider-Man, with a score of 69. On Rotten Tomatoes, it managed to cinch the exact same score as Spider-Man, at 90%.
The first Raimi Spider-Man movie nestles itself right between Spider-Man 2 and 3 in terms of popularity. Spider-Man 2, which saw Alfred Molina’s debut as Doc Ock, manages to remain an all-time favorite among numerous Spider-Man fans, while Spider-Man 3 remains a steaming pile of delightfully viewable garbage.
Giving us the first of two separate attempts by Sony to reintroduce Spider-Man’s origin story, the first Spider-Man movie doesn’t fall victim to many of the pitfalls that make 3 so atrocious. It only features a single bad guy, which allows Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin to really dazzle in a role that encompasses his incredible range as a villain. In fact, it’s Dafoe’s presence in this film that really makes it shine. He plays Norman Osborn flawlessly, depicting an intriguing and delightfully baffling madness that really balances the character between amusing caricature and genuinely intimidating villain.
It seems that nostalgia, more than anything, keeps this film near the top of many fans’ lists. Numerous critics note that Spider-Man “along with X-Men from 2000, paved the way to the great comic book movie renaissance of the 2000s,” a compliment that I think this film genuinely deserves. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film maintains a 90%, despite having been released nearly 20 years ago. It is similarly popular on Metacritic, where it enjoys generally favorable reviews with a score of 73.
4) Spider-Man: Homecoming
The first of Tom Holland’s standalone Spider-Man films, Homecoming is a delightful movie that finally abandons the origin story arc. It allows fans to rely on the wealth of knowledge they already possess to sort out how Peter got his powers and dives straight into a story that combines charming coming-of-age vibes with action-packed fight scenes and enjoyable characters.
One of the things Homecoming does best, in my opinion, is aging Peter appropriately. Maguire’s Peter was supposed to be in high school during the first Spider-Man film, but really appeared to be a 20-something cosplaying as a teen. Garfield was better, but still looked like he should be comfortably in college during his debut as the wall-crawler. Only Holland actually looks—and is treated within the script—like a young teenager. Several lines and moments within the film aid in this, ensuring that audiences are well aware that they’re watching an explicitly youthful hero find his footing.
This really helps the Holland-helmed movies shine, as they allow audiences to really feel like they’re watching Peter become the man he is destined to be. It gives us all the more reason to root for him and adds a delightfully different element into each interaction in the movies. Critics across sites seem to agree with this sentiment, giving Homecoming a solid 73 on Metacritic. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film is certified fresh with a score of 92%.
3) Spider-Man 2
The most popular live-action Spider-Man movie to hit theaters until No Way Home‘s release aired more than 15 years ago, in 2004. Introducing Alfred Molina in a role he returned to in No Way Home, the film managed to capture many of the elements that make Spider-Man popular despite continuing to feature utterly wooden acting from Maguire, an actor who I genuinely believe is capable of far more.
It’s Molina’s Doc Ock that really makes this movie what it is, thanks to his nuanced and compelling portrayal of Doctor Otto Octavius. Maguire manages to carry several iconic action scenes that remain highly memeable to this day, and Doc Ock’s fight sequences are still fun to watch despite the massive leap forward that CGI has taken over the last decade and a half.
There’s plenty of reason to love this movie, even past Maguire’s thoroughly unenthusiastic performance. I think it is necessary to note that I mostly find him blank and uninteresting in his scenes as Peter—he does far better when suited up as Spider-Man. Regardless of my thoughts, however, the internet at large absolutely loves this movie. It comes in on review sites just a few points behind Spider-Verse, a critically acclaimed masterpiece that slides in just above it. On Metacritic, the film inches in a full ten points above Homecoming with a score of 83. It’s just as popular on Rotten Tomatoes, where it maintains a rating of 93%.
2) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
The second-to-last entry on this list well deserves its spot near the top. 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a wonder, plain and simple. It takes a bold and adventurous approach to storytelling, weaving an intriguing and brilliantly mind-boggling story around relatable, hilarious, and thoroughly enjoyable characters. Pair that with the captivating art style and brilliant performances from Jake Johnson, Shameik Moore, and Hailee Steinfeld, to name a few, and you have an absolute knockout.
Into the Spider-Verse takes a very different approach from all the other Spider-Man movies on this list, somehow managing to keep balance among its overloaded cast thanks to excellent writing. This results in numerous unforgettable characters, along with thoroughly quotable lines that will stick around for years. It takes full advantage of all the wonderful allowances its animated format makes possible, resulting in some breathtaking shots that remain iconic years after its release.
Viewers and critics across the board agree: Into the Spider-Verse is one of the best Spider-Man movies to date. It is among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top scorers, with a persisting score of 97%, and is on Metacritics‘ “must watch” list, with a score of 87. On the site, it is considered to have “universal acclaim” from both users and critics.
1) Spider-Man: No Way Home
Tom Holland’s third solo Spider-Man film is an outright triumph. It weaves together more than 20 years of film to create one of the most ambitious and brilliantly executed crossovers in cinematic history. It flawlessly blends nostalgia with the MCU’s humor, thrilling action sequences, and the weight of consequences and grief to create a film that is impossible to look away from. Add in brilliant acting from each and every actor who appears on screen and you have a film that most viewers won’t be able to shake for days after viewing.
Even Tobey Maguire, who you well know my opinion on at this point, shines in this film. His chemistry with Holland and Garfield is unbeatable, somehow managing to perfectly blend fan service with genuinely great filmmaking. The only bad news regarding this film—if you choose to see it that way—is that it essentially requires a rewatch of every film on this list apart from Into The Spider-Verse. Fans with a fresh memory of the first Spider-Man trilogy and Garfield’s Amazing Spider-Man entries will find themselves perfectly poised to soak up every callback, shared glance, and subtle nod woven into this film, culminating in an utterly unique viewing experience.
I cannot say enough good things about this film. The chemistry between characters is captivating and charming, the villains are nuanced and complex, and the soul of the movie somehow remains purely and unabashedly youthful. Thankfully, I am far from alone in my high praise of the film. It briefly held the unique honor of earning a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, but that score has since fallen to a still-enviable 94%. Fans are more complimentary than critics on the review-aggregation site, where they’ve given No Way Home a full 99%. On Metacritic, the film has a relatively average rating of 71, which—as some of you may have already noticed—technically robs it of the honor of topping this list. Based on the fan reactions to it and my own impressions of the movie, however, I am still placing it in the number one position. Whether or not the internet as a whole agrees, this film is the culmination of everything I’ve ever loved about Spider-Man and I truly believe it to be the best superhero flick ever made.